Energy-pollution nexus for urban buildings
Kumar, Prashant & Morawska, Lidia (2013) Energy-pollution nexus for urban buildings. Environmental Science & Technology (including News & Research Notes), 47(14), pp. 7591-7592.
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Since the first oil crisis in 1974, economic reasons placed energy saving among the top priorities in most industrialised countries. In the decades that followed, another, equally strong driver for energy saving emerged: climate change caused by anthropogenic emissions, a large fraction of which result from energy generation. Intrinsically linked to energy consumption and its related emissions is another problem: indoor air quality. City dwellers in industrialised nations spend over 90% of their time indoors and exposure to indoor pollutants contributes to ~2.6% of global burden of disease and nearly 2 million premature deaths per year1. Changing climate conditions, together with human expectations of comfortable thermal conditions, elevates building energy requirements for heating, cooling, lighting and the use of other electrical equipment. We believe that these changes elicit a need to understand the nexus between energy consumption and its consequent impact on indoor air quality in urban buildings. In our opinion the key questions are how energy consumption is distributed between different building services, and how the resulting pollution affects indoor air quality. The energy-pollution nexus has clearly been identified in qualitative terms; however the quantification of such a nexus to derive emissions or concentrations per unit energy consumption is still weak, inconclusive and requires forward thinking. Of course, various aspects of energy consumption and indoor air quality have been studied in detail separately, but in-depth, integrated studies of the energy-pollution nexus are hard to come by. We argue that such studies could be instrumental in providing sustainable solutions to maintain the trade-off between the energy efficiency of buildings and acceptable levels of air pollution for healthy living.
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